A fascination with Kafka’s Metamorphosis is one of the few memories I retained from World Lit 101. I have no idea why. Wait. Maybe I do. It’s not that its storyline could have inspired the tabloid teaser, Working man turns into beetle; news at 11. Actually, I think it’s because I love the word metamorphosis—and along with it the idea that some miraculous (even frightening) force can change me into something entirely different.
I muse about this today because my newest book, The GOD Interviews, initiated a metamorphosis in my writing approach. The book is a hybrid—half fiction and half my more typical genre: Christian Living/Bible Study. Until recently, I was comfy-cozy in my nonfiction niche. That is, until agent-friend Rachelle Gardner nudged me to envision an edgier way of packaging the old story. By planting that niggling notion in my little author mind, she helped me see it was time to take the risk of metamorphosing (yep, that’s the word for it).
What’s the Difference?
Not far into the writing process, I realized this isn’t such new territory. In journalism school I’d learned to tell nonfiction stories using a novelist’s tools:
- character development
- point of view
- narrative arc
Over the years, I recall a few times when I took up one of those tools as a hobbyist to craft a collection of research notes into a chapter I wanted readers to consider especially inspiring.
But this book’s foray into the imagination zone reminded me to build my writing muscle by using the novelist’s tools more regularly. I envisioned scenes and let them flow in a powerful arc. I conceived and grew characters who delighted, frightened, enraged and surprised me with their witty repartee. Even the nonfiction chapters that follow each fictional scene (perhaps especially those) benefited from my renewed emphasis on writing to captivate readers’ imaginations. They began to sparkle with newly infused, dramatic light.
A New Joy
I now know something my novelist friends have been reticent to share: the distinct joy of seeing figments of my imagination spring to life in readers’ minds. And, whether I’m writing fiction or nonfiction (or a hybrid), I’m redoubling my efforts to capture readers’ fancies. I challenge you to join me in metamorphosing into writers who make practiced use of the novelist’s toolbox to enthrall readers in a way plain, dry copy never could.
Learn about The GOD Interviews, read an excerpt, or purchase your autographed copy at www.joymediaservices.com.